Chronic disease management is a costly challenge in Indiana. Due to high rates of tobacco usage and obesity and the resulting health issues (diabetes, lung cancer, heart disease, etc.), Indiana finds itself again near the bottom of recent national health and fitness rankings.
As the new executive director of the Wellness Council of Indiana (WCI), Jennifer Pferrer is ready to help tackle those challenges and spread the message of comprehensive wellness programming to Hoosier employers.
“Some of the goals in the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 economic development plan target reducing smoking rates and obesity levels in Indiana, and the role of the WCI is to bring that conversation to a broader space and make an impact in health care costs and the health of Hoosiers,” she explains.
“I’m passionate about health care and I am looking forward to adding my mark on the Wellness Council of Indiana, as it really fits my background.”
Pferrer joined the WCI – a program of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce – in April and previously worked for the American Diabetes Association (ADA) for 10 years, serving in roles that included executive director for Indiana and Kentucky, and regional vice president of a six-state region. Prior to the ADA, she studied consumer-physician relationships as marketing manager at St. Vincent Hospital.
Pferrer’s goal is to continue proving the value of the WCI as an investment for Hoosier employers.
“Wellness is so much broader than Fitbit programs. This is not just food and fitness. There is a data-driven business case for wellness. Wellness needs to be seen as an investment and it goes back to managing chronic diseases,” Pferrer notes. “For example, health education for employees with pre-diabetes can reduce the annual health care spend by the employer by thousands of dollars.”
Through the WCI’s AchieveWell company-based wellness program certification and the Indiana Healthy Community Initiative – which encourages a community-based approach to wellness to increase economic development potential – Pferrer says the infrastructure is in place for wellness success.
“I want employers to know – if wellness is on their radar, they don’t have to recreate the wheel. We can convene and share best practices and be that resource for them,” she concludes.
For more information on the WCI or to connect with Pferrer, visit www.wellnessindiana.org or call (317) 264-2168.